Based on our review of the timelines used in other general education reform efforts, we propose the following timeline for Common Curriculum revisions at CSB/SJU [Note: The previous two years are included in the timeline so readers can have a sense for the progression of activities]:
Fall Semester 2015:
Spring semester 2016:
Typically, general education task forces work in isolation and are expected to draft a revised curriculum and present it to the faculty. But this approach can end in failure, especially when the rest of the community has not participated in the curriculum design process. During our research, and in consultation with experts at the AAC&U 2015 Summer Institute on General Education and Assessment, we learned about another approach: the task force can guide the community through the reform process while it invites both "targeted suggestions" and "curriculum proposals" from individuals and teams at large.
With targeted suggestions, individual faculty members can submit design ideas without having to draft an entire curriculum. This encourages broader participation in the process and allows campus participants to submit ideas related to their areas of expertise. These ideas can be collected and presented to design teams for consideration as they craft proposals. These targeted suggestions can be collected into one document and presented to the faculty as a whole for further discussion.
The general education task force can place a call to the entire community for curriculum design proposals, which are guided by the design principles and learning outcomes endorsed by the Joint Faculty Senate. The general education task force manages the process and holds a variety of workshops, brown bag lunches, and other events to promote campus conversations and provide teams with the training and resources to develop sound proposals. Design teams can present proposals to the faculty to receive additional feedback. (If the Joint Faculty Senate approves the proposed timeline in this report, CCVC will send a call for targeted suggestions following the adoption of revised learning outcomes, as well as an invitation for campus curriculum design teams to form. The specific details of the process will be announced at that time.)
CCVC team members who attended the AAC&U 2015 Summer Institute on General Education and Assessment met individually with experts Dr. Paul Gaston, Dr. Lee Knefelkamp, and Dr. Debra Humphreys to discuss this idea. In addition, peers from other campuses vetted and approved this approach in a session at the Institute where the CSB/SJU team presented a proposed reform plan. Finally, this approach is documented in the scholarship on general education reform (for example, Stephanie Roach provides details in her article, "No One Should Go It Alone: Engaging Constituents in General Education Reform"). CCVC believes a similar process can engage the campus community at CSB/SJU and culminate with innovative proposals.
By the end of spring semester 2016, the CCVC will ask for a statement of intent by those who plan to develop a curriculum model. This will allow the CCVC to monitor and help those involved in model development, and to ensure that teams encounter multiple points of view from the beginning of the design process. The groups will have until November/December of 2016 to construct a model based on the vision, essential learning outcomes, and guiding principles as supported by the Joint Faculty Senate. Should individuals not want to design an entire curriculum but have ideas for particular aspects of or changes to the curriculum, targeted suggestions will allow individuals or groups to submit suggestions for those developing models. These suggestions will be due at the beginning of the fall semester 2016 but early submissions are encouraged to allow for potential inclusion in models as teams develop them. [Note: Timeline can be adjusted if additional work is required to revise the learning outcomes]
CCVC and interested faculty attend the "Illuminating the Liberal Arts" conference at CSB (Summer 2016) if it is helpful to the work required in designing models.
Fall semester 2016:
Spring semester 2017:
This involves the transition from faculty vote to implementation of a revised general education curriculum. The details would be developed by a second CSB/SJU team to attend the AAC&U Summer Institute on General Education & Assessment, likely during the summer of 2017. Items that would need to be considered include:
If this timeline is followed, a new general education curriculum will be in place prior to the goal of 2020 set in the strategic plan. We realize that it takes time to agree on a vision, revise learning outcomes, and design a new general education curriculum. Our research into the experience of other colleges and universities who have successfully adopted general education reforms reveals that it is a multi-year process. For example, the revision process took six years at Montana State University, which replaced a cafeteria-style core curriculum with a curriculum focused on student learning, inquiry, and research. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln spent four years from initial research to the beginning of implementation. Susan M. Awbrey writes in The Journal of General Education, "It is estimated that successful, deep-level systemic change takes three to five years. Nevertheless, it is this deeper change that fosters future growth and development, and can open the institution to continuous learning and development" (2005, p. 18). We have outlined a somewhat aggressive timeline above, but feel it is feasible given the groundwork already established by this committee. The Joint Faculty Senate can decide to modify the timeline if certain aspects (such as revision of the learning goals) require more time, or if other events (such as the Provost's search or the implementation of other features of the strategic plan) demand faculty attention and time. However, CCVC would not recommend too many delays, since it is also important to maintain momentum on this important task.